Categorising your skin begins by understanding what is causing your sensitivity, so a great place to start is with our free online test.
Founder of Script Skincare, Associate Professor Greg Goodman divides the sensitive skin scale into three levels in order to make it easier to define and understand, these categories are:
The first is what is classed as a short-term irritation. This will occur when your skin is first introduced to an irritant or a new product that over stimulates it. If this is the case, your sensitivity may subside when your skin becomes used to the product through gradual introduction. Many ingredients that are beneficial for your skin can induce a temporary reaction, which is why we always recommend you follow our guidelines for introducing a new product to your skin. In some cases, the product may have to be ceased altogether.
The second is caused by skin diseases such as rosacea or eczema, and this is where your genetics come into play. If you suffer from the ‘atopic triad’ (eczema, asthma and allergies) you are greatly predisposed to sensitive skin and will likely fall into the level 2 or 3 sensitivity category.
Thirdly, are those with a true allergy to an ingredient, in which case gradual introduction will not work. The only way to reduce your sensitive reaction is to make sure you are not in contact with your trigger. So, knowing what you’re allergic to is important so it can be avoided, you can find this out the hard way or through specialised allergy testing.
Sensitive is not a skin type, it is a condition that occurs in association with your skin type, for example you can be both dry and sensitive or have combination/ sensitive skin. This is why when you look at your own Script skin profile, you will note that in addition to your skin type you also have a separate sensitivity level. However, there is one way that your skin type and sensitivity level are similar and that is, that both live on a scale and over the course of your life due to many different influencing factors your skin will slide up and down that scale. This is why it’s important to regularly check in and reassess your skin using the Script Skincare test. This ensures that you don’t inadvertently compromise your skin barrier function and effectively make your skin more sensitive.
It is quite amazing just how insensitive the skin usually is. It is bombarded constantly by so many irritants, toxins and noxious bugs and yet for the most part just shrugs these off. Our skin’s primary function is to protect our internal organs from the world around us, it is a fortress that seems impenetrable, and for the majority of the time, in the majority of people, it is. Not sensitive means that at the time of taking the test you are lucky enough to have very little that is causing irritation (at least to your skin.)
Generally the people that fall into this category are those that are currently, or have historically, experienced short-term irritability. Certain skin products can cause irritation, as can skin procedures, medications, the weather and other aspects of daily life. The skin, being the remarkable organ it is, will often adapt and in many cases will then be able to tolerate its new conditions. Or, in the case of skincare, may actually benefit from the new product, after a weaning in period. This short-term irritability is very common. Products containing ingredients such as vitamin A (retinol) predictably induce this type of temporary intolerance, but in the long run are hugely beneficial for your skin.
True sensitivity can be different in each individual as it depends on what the cause is. It can be:
The optimal pH value of our skin lies between 4.7 and 5.75, a pH of 7 is considered neutral. Anything below that is acidic and above it alkaline, so skin’s natural pH is mildly acidic. We are taught that acids are bad things, the stuff of James Bond and torturers. However, our skin is acidic and this quality is an important part of our barrier function, protecting us from some of the nasty bugs that attempt to take up residence on our skin surface. The most important thing for those of us that are sensitive, is to try our best to maintain our skin’s microbiome and barrier function.
Soap, be it the old fashion bar or the more modern liquid, are alkaline and alter the flora of bugs that flourish on the surface, actually making it an unhealthier place, full of inflammation and potential infection. Soaps also act as a sort of parasite, leaching on to the good oils that help keep our barrier tight, dissolving them and further wrecking our skin. For anyone who has any degree of sensitivity, the first thing to do is find basic products (cleanser, moisturiser and sunscreen) that are acid based and therefore kind to the skin, and for many this will be enough to keep sensitivity at bay. Remember that the barrier function, once disturbed takes many months to restore itself to a normal state, so be patient after you make a change.
Sometimes, the best way to solve the problem is to ask more questions. Our Script Skincare team are always here to listen, so booking a free consultation in store might be the best option to get you started. If this isn’t possible, begin by taking our test, which is designed to get to the heart of your concerns and provide you with products that work. You can then always give one of our stores a call to chat through your options or send us an email at email@example.com
Our founder, dermatologist Assoc Professor Greg Goodman is Chief of Surgery at the Skin and Cancer Foundation (now Skin Health Institute) and Adjunct Associate Professor with Monash University. He is a go-to dermatology industry-insider for Vogue, Elle and Cleo — amongst others, and consults on pores, skin pigmentation, ageing and acne. Greg has over 30 years of experience both academically and professionally. He harnessed this knowledge and experience to create Script and take the confusion out of choosing skincare products. To learn more about Greg click here.
Save yourself some research and let us geek out for you by taking our skin profile test which will tell you which products suit your skin.Take the skin profile test